Six days to St. Paddy’s
IRISH MUSIC — is there really such a thing? Yes, and Irish music takes you into its culture hook, line, and sinker. It’s known for telling powerful stories of resistance and sacrifice, land and liberty, love and loss; it cants of a thirst for the grog and flare for the poetic. Irish music is memorable for its strong rhythm and structure linked to true stories.
Come out to Starbucks on Apache Trail and Deleware from 4:00 – 5:00 pm on the south facing deck where I’m playing Irish songs on St. Patrick’s Day.
A song from THE MAGEES below from back in the days.
It all began on a rainy afternoon at a window inside Peter Gummerson’s house. Looking out the window, my fingers wrapped around chords on his Nord keyboard. I was recording a song entitled “8 Track.“ The original lyrics were taken from two poems and two different parts to my life—one was a runaway nineteen year old and the other a twenty-three year old in love with an older woman. Derrell Syria visited gummersound and laid down guitar throughout the three separate suites in the song. R. Thorburn
My words explore a soul’s stretch toward a white star emerging from lightning; a blending of Michigan & Wisconsin land and water into a memoir piece I have been writing – on and off – for 15 years. Thorburn gave me advice for selecting edits from two long stories, here melted down to this four minute word/music offering. G. Ormson
For 12 years I lived close to Lake Superior in Marquette, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Two of my children were born there and all three spent their early years there. But my will to survive its brutal winters faded as the economic pinch turned mean and took a bite from my hide. I had to move.
While living in the U.P., I learned of the Finnish people in the late Nineteenth Century, sailed across the Atlantic to establish a new life. Many of them moved to the U.P., and had been there long before I was in 1998; so were the French Voyagers, and the Anishinaabe before them. They brought little, but their most important resource was sisu, or guts. They also brought their 1000 year old family-bonding mantra: sauna on kuma! Sauna is hot!
I grew to love my sauna and associate the best of my life’s hot times in the coldest of places. I built a sauna from scraps and tin roof panels I scavenged from a junkyard. Somehow, I found $173, to buy windows, a door, a stove and stove pipe. Preparing my sauna the first time, the roof caught fire. A friend was there and we managed to put it out with buckets of water. In time, I made it work.
It was a gathering place for poets and writers. We’d steam together, and afterwards, I’d concoct white Russians in big blenders and pour them into glasses held by writers, musicians, filmmakers, and friends. I’d watch them melt into their chairs as poems oozed from boiled bodies.… read more...
Russell Thorburn and Gregory Ormson have worked together for over a decade writing original poems, prose, and music. Much of it happens in spite of distance and isolation. The eight songs/poems posted over the next 8 days of April will close out NATIONAL POETRY MONTH for 2020.
Russell Thorburn plays “Chelsea Hotel,” a composition he wrote to celebrate Dylan Thomas. The hotel is similar to a whale swimming through the Atlantic humpbacked Ocean of New York City, and lives are certainly made of vibrations, artists and poets who swam through the hallways and never reached shore. In the song Dylan opens the door to Death wearing a Fifth Avenue gown and black gloves; he is there at his typewriter to finish the last pages of Under Milk Wood.
Substitute Thomas for Ormson’s memoir and corners of eternity, and don’t answer the door. “Chelsea Hotel” was performed at the Beaumier Folk Series Concert in 2014, Northern Michigan University. I was on piano and mumbling the lyrics. Here is the basic piano track in another gummersound recording. R. Thorburn
Free diving in Hawaii opened me to a whale song’s sonic jangling my synapses and brain cells. It came to me from deep down and far out. Sounds swam through the water and past my cochlea until my inner ear caught humpback aria as it rearranged maps in my head.
Under the waves, I heard the ecstatic; it was accompanied by sweeter-still unheard melodies of which John Keats wrote. Years later, I’m still trying to make sense of it all, like the yellow-robed priests: Mayan, Incan, or Egyptian, who crumbled into the dust at such otherworldly ditties. … read more...
“There was something about the way he played his Stratocaster that made it seem otherwordly.” –Eric Clapton on Jimi Hendrix
My sitar flows in 19 bands of light: their names are baaj, chikari, and tarab. Its journey to my hand is a mystery, but its music-medicine came to my doorstep from an old land, gripped me from the eons, and pulled my soul into its orbit. It’s a path unlike any other, bending more than notes. A musician friend and professor said, “Its all angles.”
Saraswati dances, sitar bends, and because I’ve heard its music and felt it in my chest I participate in its step. This step is toward the depths and from them rises a watery siren-song of the fathoms.
Sitar music is a never-ending river, shepherding me to a place close and yet far away. My teacher speaks in common tones and offers up clusters of daring: “Consistency, consistency, consistency,” she says. Her words; the kernel of all learning, teaching, and the core of every guru’s curriculum.
I’ve seen the rivers of India, but I can’t put myself and my sitar on their banks; but once at dusk, on a hot July night, I made my way with this rosewood, gourd, string & steel riddle to the banks of the Salt River in east Phoenix to listen. There, I realized sitar will not accompany me without shepherding along a river of souls.
Looking to the Salt, I could almost see a funeral pyre float past; a desert inspired mirage bobbing with the current, like a lazy raft ablaze in flames, scented smoke and grief trailing behind.… read more...